I slumped over my bike, head spinning and the taste of sick in my mouth. As I looked around in the snow-scape that surrounded me. There was no-one too be seen.It was early in the race but I was already chasing a lone leader. Despite the vomiting I felt OK. Perhaps my strength was coming back? "Best get on with it", I said to myself.
The race was the second annual Rovaniemi 150. It takes in a loop through the Lapland forests just inside the Arctic Circle. The trails vary from snowmobile tracks through the forest, long, exposed, lakes and rivers and even some ice roads. I took part last year. Due to terrible conditions only three of us managed to finish. After 32 hours it came down to a near sprint finish. I managed to get second place.
I'm not sure if I made a miscalculation, or was being ambitious but this year I had only allowed myself 27 hours before I would need to leave to catch my flight home. In the lead-up to the race I had my fingers crossed for cold temperatures, which make for fast going. Despite the week before temperatures falling to -25c, it was not to be. In the days before the race it was unseasonably warm and there was some snow fall. While the conditions did not look as bad as last year, they certainly were not good. To add to that, in the days before the race I had some stomach problems, I think as the result of a case of food poisoning. I struggled to hold any food down and was left rather weak. My bike and kit were sorted but there wasn't much I could do other than keep my fingers and legs crossed.
Race day dawned and I was still not feeling great. I dosed up on Imodium, drank some Sprite and headed for the start line. It was great to see so many people at the start, 40 racers and a lot of spectators made for a great atmosphere. I chatted with Brant and Ed for a bit and it was soon time to get underway. I guess, because I was not feeling well, and had no expectations, I wasn't nervous at all. I planned to start and just see what happened. The flag dropped and we all raced off after a snowmobile. Brant took an early lead but was soon reeled in by Jan Kopka, a former winner of the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational race to Nome. I moved up in to second. My legs were feeling ok, so I thought I'd try to keep Jan in my sights. Toni caught me at checkpoint one and we rode together for some time.
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